Retired Marietta teacher voices view on STRS post

This is a call to action for retired teacher members of the STRS retirement system of Ohio. Each of us will be receiving a ballot in the mail for the election of two retired teacher positions on the STRS board. I, a retired teacher from Marietta City Schools, am encouraging you to vote for Dr. Dennis Leone.

A decade ago, a half dozen board members and the executive director were convicted of ethics violations. Dr. Dennis Leone was responsible for blowing the whistle. His award-winning investigative reporting focused on the blatant waste of members’ contributions. Dr. Leone was so concerned about what he discovered (using public records supplied by STRS) that he ran and won a board seat as a retired member representative. During his term, out-of-control board entitlement spending was curbed and accountability to membership was experienced. Many member/beneficiary-friendly policies were initiated and a measure of respectability returned to the boardroom.

As I have seen in the news lately, board members are spending a lot on travel again, bonuses to staff are a continuing issue, and the COLA reduction is a concern. We need Dr. Dennis Leone back on the STRS board. He is willing and gives these five reasons for, “Why I am running for a retiree seat on the STRS board”:

– The newly adopted pension solvency law adopted by the state legislature and signed by the governor has a provision that should be of utmost concern to retirees. It is the provision that will give the STRS board the legal authority in the future to make major financial decisions regarding our pension system without legislative approval.

– I believe our COLA and the Health Care Stabilization Fund will be future targets for total elimination by the STRS board. This needs to be strongly resisted.

– An emergency contingency plan, which I first recommended in 2005, still needs to be developed at STRS in the event there is another significant drop in the stock market.

– I have some suspicions about whether the spending reform and the oversight measures that were put in place during my first term on the STRS board (2005-2009) are still in full effect.

– I firmly believe that when retirees and active teachers have to pay more for their health insurance, then so should the 600 employees at STRS on a proportional basis.

Dr. Leone is a retired teacher, principal and superintendent. I watched Dennis Leone in 2003 as he fought to preserve the pensions of all Ohio retirees. Please vote for Dr. Dennis Leone for the retired teacher position on the STRS board. If you would like to know more about Dr. Dennis Leone, visit kathiebracy.blogspot.com/.

Betsy Cook

Retired Marietta City School teacher